10 Reasons to Stay in a Vacation Home
Last month, I spent an amazing week in Oregon with my mom, my mother-in-law, my husband and our two little boys. We rented a bungalow in Portland and then a cottage on the coast. There was a porch swing to lounge on and we took turns cooking big family meals full of local produce. Anton, our two-year-old, fell in love with with the Portland house's outdoor cat, helped us put food out and named him “Motato” (rhymes with potato).
When we travel as a family, we usually prefer renting a home to staying in a hotel. A house or an apartment are typically less expensive and more spacious, and staying in a home makes you feel like a local. Here are a few tips on how to make the most out of renting on vacation...
1. The More the Merrier
Vacation homes often have extra space. We love to invite friends and family, which is especially fun for our kids and, when it involves grandparents, can let us sneak out for a date night. Our whole family recently stayed in this great Connecticut home, and every winter we get together in a Palm Springs mid-century house.
2. Eat Like a Local
In Portland, we were bowled over by all the fantastic food. When you have a kitchen and a dining table, you can bring in lunch from the city's best food carts or make a great dinner out of fresh, local ingredients.
3. Spend on the Fun Stuff
Because home rentals are usually more cost-effective than hotels, you'll probably have some wiggle room to take a surfing lesson, get your aura photographed (we did!) or splurge on something else that feels special.
4. Become a Neighborhood Expert
When you're staying in a less tourist-y part of town, you get to know a place like a local. We try to walk or bike as much as possible and scout out the best coffee shops and boutiques off the beaten path.
5. Get the Best Travel Advice
Homeowners often leave tips on where to eat, shop and play. No matter how much we scour the Internet before our trip or ask our friends for advice, the best and most current ideas come from our hosts.
6. Make Kids' Needs a Breeze
Traveling with little ones involves breaks for snacks, rest and playtime. It's much easier to make them comfy in a home that has space for quiet naps and is stocked with toys, a high chair or even a backyard.
7. Bring on the Babysitters
Unless you splurge on a suite, having a babysitter in a hotel room is... awkward. One of the most convenient aspects of renting a vacation home is how much easier it is to use a babysitter in terms of space and, often, homeowner recommendations.
8. Lessen Your Load
We always try to pack light, but that can be hard when you're traveling for more than a few days with kids. Vacation rentals can come stocked with bikes, stereos and, often, the most helpful piece of travel machinery: a washing machine and dryer.
9. Soak Up Visual Inspiration
Every time I stay in someone's home, I come away with decorating ideas — say, for a cool art print, a funny book or a pretty way to arrange flowers.
10. Take Time To Chill
One favorite part of traveling as a family is having time away from our usually hectic schedules. With living areas to lounge around in rather than a cramped hotel room, you can really slow down, relax and hang out.
I hope this gives you some ideas for your next family getaway! My dream trip for this year involves a houseboat in Amsterdam. Happy trails...
About Joanna Goddard + Cup of Jo
Joanna Goddard is the founder of the award-winning women's lifestyle site A Cup of Jo, which covers everything from beauty and books to food and wine to relationships and motherhood. Her articles have appeared in many magazines, including Glamour, New York, Budget Travel and Cookie. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two young sons, and she likes white wine, Seinfeld and all seasons except winter.